The shape of recovery

9 June 2020 Posted by: Patrick Woods Posted In: Crisis management

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There is considerable ongoing debate concerning the nature of the economic crisis that has been triggered by COVID-19, what the recovery will look like and how in can be best nurtured. The discussion typically begins with an assessment of whether the current recession will be shaped like a V, a U or heaven-forbid, an L, and proceeds to offer various options on how best to stimulate recovery. The economy, we are told can be nursed back to full health. 

Whilst this may indeed be true, such an analysis implies that the economy is a singular unit and behaves as such. But of course, it is not. It is an amalgam of individuals and organisations operating in different locations and sectors whose behaviours are influenced by a wide variety of factors. Consequently, how this “thing”, the economy, behaves at any point in time is impossible to predict with any certainty. Hence the reason economic forecasts are hardly ever accurate and cannot be depended upon. 

As political and business leaders, employees and indeed as people, we have been profoundly affected by COVID-19. It is probably not an exaggeration to say that none of us will ever be the same again. Whilst it will provide rich ground for behavioural scientists to trawl over, it is likely to take years perhaps even generations for its impact to be fully understood. 

In the meantime, one simple conclusion can be drawn with reasonable certainty. If you are operating a business, recognise that your customers are being affected by the unfolding economic crisis. The impact upon them will range from mild upheaval to considerable pain. Therefore, whatever it is you thought your customer relationships were a few months back, do not assume they remain unchanged. If you have not already considered conducting a fundamental re-assessment of how your clients are feeling, now would be a good time to do so.

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